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Professor Karen West

Professor Karen West

Professor Karen West
PhD, MA, BA (Hons)

Professor of Social Policy and Ageing

Office Room 2.4, 7 Priory Road
School for Policy Studies,
8 Priory Road, Clifton BS8 1TZ
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 331 0836



I joined the School for Policy Studies from Aston University, where I was head of the Sociology and Policy department and founder member of the Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing. I am also a Visiting Professor at Örebro University in Sweden, where I teach and advise on the interdisciplinary postgraduate research programme on ‘Successful Ageing'.   

I have a broad background in public policy, social policy and public management and governance, but the focus of my work for about the last twelve years has been on ageing.  I have carried out numerous research projects on this general theme, including research on local community support services for older people, extra care housing and support, social care and older adults, and extended working life.  I have two current research projects. The first is an investigation of the benefits of volunteer bereavement support for older recipients of bereavement support -including those bereaved by dementia- and older volunteers, funded by Cruse Bereavement Care in association with the ExtraCare Charitable Trust.  The second, funded by the Averil Osborn Fund and the Tudor Trust and in collaboration with colleagues from Lancaster, LSE, UCL and the OU, is examining the benefits of co-housing as a general model of housing and support for later life. The work is being carried out, in the first instance, in partnership with the Older Women’s Co-housing Network (OWCH). A further application for an ESRC large group has also been submitted to further this work.  Fingers crossed! All of my research seeks to make an impact on policy and practice, but always also with a view to advancing theoretical understanding of contemporary ageing.

The focus of my theoretical work is the broad theme of ageism and, in particular, the ageism embedded in public policy and policy discourse more generally.   I am more generally interested in how policy, broadly understood, manages capitalism’s ambivalent relationship to ageing and longevity. I am also interested in the potential of intergenerational relationships in overcoming age prejudice and, equally, in the use and mis-use of discourses of intergenerational conflict. 

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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